Animal Law Is Making its Way Into China
- by Joyce Tischler, Animal Law Professor of Practice
July 2019: Beijing, China
This throbbing metropolis of 21 million people, with smoggy skies and hot, humid summer days, was the perfect host city for the 1st China Animal Law Forum, an event that marked the blossoming of animal law in a country in which, sadly, the production and consumption of farmed animals has exploded in the past decade.
As the epicenter of animal law, the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School (CALS) proudly co-sponsored this event, and I was there, lecturing on how to creatively use the law to protect animals when there is no anti-cruelty statute. This was not a theoretical talk. Because farmed animals are exempt from most state anti-cruelty laws in the U.S., and there is no federal law offering them protection, American lawyers have been forced to develop other avenues to help those animals through litigation and legal action. Our colleagues in China were eager to hear about legal approaches that they can apply. Additionally, South African attorney, Tony Gerrans, who recently completed his LL.M. at Lewis & Clark Law School, gave a wonderful presentation on law enforcement relating to wildlife crimes.
I was delighted to meet some of the leading practitioners and scholars of animal law in China, and to spend time with friends like Professor Peter Li of the University of Houston, Chris Green of Harvard, and Professor Amanda Whitfort, of Hong Kong University, the leading authority on animal law in Hong Kong.
CALS has hosted its own conference for almost thirty years, understanding that these events are an essential tool of the animal law movement – they provide key opportunities to share ideas and cement relationships and partnerships. Our LL.M. program will welcome the first two legal scholars from China this fall, and in Beijing, I encouraged other Chinese lawyers to gain the broad-based animal law training that is offered only at Lewis & Clark Law School.
The most exciting part of the 1st China Animal Law Forum was a law student competition organized by Professor Gao Lihong, of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law. Seventeen teams of law students from various schools offered innovative strategies to prosecute animal abusers, given the lack of an anti-cruelty law in China. The oral presentations by the six final teams was an impressive display of creativity and understanding of the legal process. I came away feeling incredibly hopeful about the development of animal law in China, something that we at the Center for Animal Law Studies are committed to encouraging and assisting.
To paraphrase the philosopher, Confucius: the person who seeks to move a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. We witnessed the hoisting of some rather large rocks in Beijing.